Back at the Ranch Blog: Alliances

A house divided against itself cannot endure.

Communication is the best way to work together towards a goal.

I was one of the first members of Stock Horse of Texas, and in 2008 I became executive director. We were focused on serving our members and growing our association. I remember many years ago sitting arena-side with Dr. Jim Heird (who is now a member of AQHA’s Executive Committee) at the Ft. Worth Stock Show, watching an AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse class. I turned to him, and asked “Do you think we could ever run an AQHA Versatility and a Stock Horse of Texas show concurrent?” He thought a moment and replied, “Yes, I think we can.”

And we did. Since then, the popularity of ranch horse events has skyrocketed. SHTX’s membership has grown 40 percent, and its shows are full. SHTX’s focus has always been on education, and clinics have grown so much they now have to offer a wait list. Most of its shows offer both SHTX and AQHA classes, most being concurrent, which lets members get club points, AQHA points or both with one run. All of that took a lot of effort on the part of leadership, as well as patience from members, for us to get our rules and judging systems aligned.

Now that I’m at AQHA, I can see the need for this to happen all over the country. I am visiting with people and seeing associations that are highlighting the work of our great ranch horses. There is a great deal of potential for these associations, too, to offer concurrent AQHA classes along with their shows.

However, to do so, we all need to be in alignment. There are so many ranch and stock horse associations out there, it can be very confusing for people to know which rules are being followed when they go to a show; whether that is equipment issues, class details or judging criteria. It would be advantageous for all of us to align our rules, so you know that the bit that was legal this week at a stock horse association show will also be legal next week at an AQHA VRH show.

 This would also give us an opportunity to record the major achievements these ranch horses are already doing. I think that is very important on behalf of not only the individual horse, but also this great American Quarter Horse breed as a whole. The work is already being done – and I want AQHA to be able to keep track of it and promote it.

I have been talking to so many passionate, intelligent leaders within these ranch and stock horse associations. They are committed to the growth of the industry as well as helping their members add value to these ranch horses. I am working with these leaders to create a plan to benefit our entire industry.

I would like for all of these associations to come together and create an alliance. This alliance would decide on how best to align key rules so that everyone is on the same page. However, each group would still keep their own identity, and be able to run their own club classes in addition to those core classes.

Then, this alliance could have a world-class show, where the entire ranch and stock horse world would come together. This creates an opportunity for all of us to see the best horses each association offers and lets us exchange ideas and strengthen our industry.

Ultimately, I want to strengthen all of us by this alliance. I want members to have simple-to-understand rules to follow, I want judges to have one card to fill out, I want to record the top achievements of these horses, and I want this industry to grow.

This column originally appeared in the Ranch Horse Journal. Kim Lindsey is the AQHA director of ranching. Have a comment? Contact Kim at klindsey@aqha.org.